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Kentucky, Louisville among 21 Division I schools honored by NABC

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On Thursday the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) announced its inaugural Team Academic Excellence Awards, which are given out to programs at the Division I, II and III levels of both the NCAA and NAIA that have posted a cumulative grade-point average of 3.0 or higher.

Twenty-one Division I programs were honored, including Belmont, Bucknell, Stanford and Texas.

Also on the list are rivals Kentucky and Louisville, with the Wildcats posting a team GPA of 3.23 and having 12 players who finished the year with a GPA of at least 3.0.

Twelve UK players accumulated a 3.0 GPA or higher in the spring semester including Twany Beckham and Jarrod Polson who were honored individually by the NABC for academic excellence.

Under coach John Calipari, the Wildcats have tallied a 3.0 or higher cumulative team GPA during the spring semester in each of the last three seasons including during the 2012 National Championship run.

As for the national champion Cardinals, they finished the 2012-13 academic year with a team GPA of 3.295. Rick Pitino’s program won the Big East’s Conference Team Academic Excellence Award in both 2011 and 2012, with the 2013 winners yet to be announced.

Louisville received an NCAA Public Recognition Award in 2013 for ranking among the top ten percent in men’s basketball in the Academic Progress Rate, which measures academic eligibility, retention and graduation for student-athletes.

The academic achievement is not new to the Cardinals. UofL’s men’s basketball team earned the 2010-11 and 2011-12 BIG EAST Conference Team Academic Excellence Awards, which recognizes the highest collective grade-point averages in each of the conference’s 23 sports (2012-13 awards have not been announced yet). The men’s basketball team has hovered around a collective 3.0 GPA for 10 straight semesters, including a 3.18 GPA for the most recent spring 2013 semester.

The 21 NCAA Division I schools to be honored by the NABC are: American, Belmont, Bucknell, The Citadel, Denver, Eastern Washington, Indiana State, Kentucky, UL Monroe, Louisville, Mercer, Rice, South Dakota State, Southern Utah, Stanford, Texas, Texas Tech, Utah, Western Michigan, William & Mary and Youngstown State.

Raphielle can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

Akron reveals special bobble heads for LeBron, high school teammates

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When it comes to discussing some of the game of basketball’s best players, specifically those who went directly from high school to the NBA, a question that’s often asked is where said player would have attended college if forced (by rule) to do so. Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James are among those who have been discussed in this manner, and in the case of LeBron he’s got connections to two programs within his home state of Ohio.

LeBron’s connected with the Ohio State program, which is outfitted by the Nike’s LeBron signature line, but there’s another program with an even closer connection. That would be Akron, which is led by head coach Keith Dambrot, and all he did was serve as LeBron’s high school coach at St. Vincent/St. Mary’s HS in Akron during the player’s freshman and sophomore years at the school. Also on those teams were two future Akron Zips in guard Dru Joyce and forward Romeo Travis.

Thursday the school announced that it would be honoring James, Joyce and Travis with bobble head dolls to be given out before Akron’s home games against Buffalo (February 16; Joyce’s bobble head), Bowling Green (February 26; Travis) and Ohio (March 1; James).

All three bobble head dolls are wearing Akron uniforms, which in the case of LeBron allows fans to think back and imagine what could have been. Season ticket holders guaranteed one bobble head per account (on each of the three giveaway days), with the first 750 fans in attendance to receive one as well.

NEW PODCAST: Indiana, Cal, troublesome trends and a weekend preview

California's Jabari Bird celebrates a score against Oregon in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016, in Berkeley, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
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The gang is back together again for another episode of the NBCSports.com College Basketball Talk Podcast, with Rob Dauster hosting and Raphielle Johnson and Scott Phillips joining him. Today’s episode touched on big wins picked up Thursday night by California and Indiana, discussing the performances of those teams and also touching on their prospects down the line.

Also discussed were the recent performances of Iowa State, Providence and Texas A&M (which are you more worried about?), and some of the top games on this weekend’s schedule headlined by Kansas visiting Oklahoma. And if you’re a fan of seafood, you may take umbrage with some of Rob’s comments at the beginning of the podcast.

As always, you can subscribe to the podcast on either iTunes or Stitcher, and there’s also a link to listen to this podcast below. Thanks for listening.